PHILIPPINE women’s volleyball team for Phnom Penh Southeast Asian Games — PHILIPPINE STAR/JOEY VILLAR

IN a mad rush to prepare for next month’s Phnom Penh Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine women’s volleyball team flew to Osaka, Japan yesterday for a training camp that will last until April 28.

Skippered by Alyssa Valdez and coached by Brazilian Jorge Souza de Brito, the 14-strong squad will have practically three weeks left to prepare for the event that is scheduled to start on May 3 at the Indoor Main Hall of the Olympic Complex located in the Cambodian capital.

The team will feature Jia de Guzman, Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza, Michele Gumabao, Ced Domingo and Kyla Atienza from reigning PVL All-Filipino Conference champion Creamline, Gel Cayuna and Glaudine Troncoso of Cignal, Kat Tolentino and Cherry Nunag of Choco Mucho, Dell Palomata of PLDT and Mylene Paat of Chery Tiggo.

Libero Bang Pineda of Akari was a late addition as she replaced Kath Arado of PLDT, who begged off in the last-minute due to injury.

Also joining the squad to Osaka were triumphant Creamline mentor Sherwin Meneses, who was tapped as a Mr. De Brito assistant, and Tonyboy Liao, the national team commission chair.

The squad is eyeing nothing less than a podium finish after failing to make it that far in last year’s Hanoi Games.

The men’s team, for its part, left the country a few days back also for Japan while the beach volley squads are headed for Brazil to likewise undergo rigid training for the rest of the month. — Joey Villar